new york bound and travel melancholia

Posted on July 24th, 2013

There’s an empty, weightless feeling to travelling. It’s a certain kind of melancholia that kicks in when you walk onto a plane. Is it the lack of certainty? The fear of insignificance? (Here you are, about to enter the conceptual vacum that is international time zones where you have no anchor, no grounding.)

Image by Ben Frost

Image by Ben Frost

Why do we do it? Why do I do it? Travel triggers all my Stuff. My anxiety around smells and sounds and the general too-closeness of humanity. It leaves me feeling lonely and anxious that I don’t have close loved ones (husband, kids) who know where I am, who look up at the sky when planes fly over and think about where in the world I might be. Who bear witness to my existence by proxy.

But I travel, I think, precisely to plunge into this particular kind of melancholy. These kind of experiences are rare ones, where we are drawn way, way, way back from our Usual Life and we have to gaze onto it and question it.

I’m in the lounge at LA airport, en route to New York. I’m heading to New York for two reasons:

1. I have an agent convinced she can sell I Quit Sugar to the Americans. I’m meeting with publishers across Manhattan and doing some press interviews.

2. I’m in lockdown in hotels to write my second I Quit Sugar print book, due out in March.

I’ll also be eating and exploring a little. Please do share any great slow food/ethical eating ideas you know in NYC below!

I’m grateful right now. I was given a First Class ticket as a thank you gift. Long story. So I’m poshing it up right now. My mate Bill told me I couldn’t take my backpack now that I was poshing it up. It had to be a suitcase. I am travelling, however, with my Byron Bay Farmer’s Market satchel as a handbag. And I’ve been arguing with Qantas staff to stop festooning me with paper napkins every time I get a glass of water (I’ve also been begging for no bottles). I know this is weird: I wound up sleeping in Business Class last night. For some reason it felt more comfortable. I’m like our kelpie we had as kids who couldn’t cope being inside the house on the rare occasion we let her in (when it was snowing). She’d stand by the door waiting to be let out again. Jo and Bill, laugh all you like!

On the plane I finished reading Michael Pollan’s Cooked. One of the final chapters looks at cheese. Pollan asks why we are so attracted to something that also disgusts us. Cheese essentially, he says, mimicks our personal decay (washed rind…smelly toe cheese?). We gravitate to the decay that is cheese because we like to be exposed to the feeling that we can overcome our own rotting process, aka death. “A little preview of putrefaction on a cheese plate can, like a horror movie, give us the little frisson of pleasure that comes from rehearsing precisely what we fear most,” he writes.

Ditto travel melancholia. It exposes us to what we fear (second?) most: lack of relevance. Travel plunges us headlong into it and we cope somehow. In fact, we thrive. We open up and we meet new people and we see everything as it is. We are rendered choiceless and in this we find strength. We find our relevance in the irrelevance. Or we find that it’s irrelevant to be relevant. There’s nothing like walking through LA airport, passing throngs of people caught up in their own sense of self importance and finding it WEIRD and surreal (I like to listen to dreamy music while I do it; this morning it was James Blake) to get au fait with your own lack of importance.

I’m scared this trip. I’m not sure why. I think it’s the opening it’s about to afford me. This is all.

Got any great food tips for NYC? I’ll be assembling a bit of a guide…


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  • V

    Food tip: In NYC, if you think you’re going to get stuck in a meeting without food check out M&G Foodstuff ( ). They’re a Sydney duo who have just launched in NYC. Apart from catering events, they provide lunch boxes with locally sourced veggies and meat & deliver around Manhatten.



    OMG Sarah.

    New adventure. Why do your words resonate so much with me? You are like a mirror into my very soul.

    Love love love! – Charina


  • Amber

    You’re agent is right. You’re book would do so well in America. I bought both two of your e books and would enjoy a printed copy as well. Good luck!


    Amber Reply:

    Oh my, just read my comment, and I should drink another cup of coffee! Let me try again. Your agent is right. Your book would do so well in America, and we could certainly use the info. I bought two f your e books which I thoroughly enjoy, but I’m a sucker for printed books. So good luck with getting published in the States :)


  • Annie

    Hi Sarah:

    Hundred Acres on MacDougal St in Soho.

    Good Italian? L’Artusi in the West Village (both restaurants source local ingredients where possible).

    Inside cocktail to escape the heat? Pegu Club on West Houston St

    Outdoor cocktail to enjoy the warm summer evening? Rooftop bar at the Kimberley Hotel

    Walk to clear your head? The Highline

    Farmers Market? Union Square on Saturdays

    Second hand perusing? Green Flea Market on the Upper West Side

    Enjoy! Looking forward to hearing about your experiences.


  • Elizabeth

    If you want a delicious and quick lunch, I suggest Bare Burger! They have organic grassfed meats, and make burgers wrapped in lettuce (I always get mine with an egg on top!). There is at least one in midtown.

    I second the nominations of Hu Kitchen and the Union Square Green Market! always fantastic. The last time I went down to USGM, I got a raw sheep’s milk cheese – aged 10 years. It was amazing – one of the best cheeses I’ve ever had!


  • ben

    Hi Sarah

    I seem to recall you saying you like Pork so at the risk of taking you down a different path you should try a little institution called Fette Sau BBQ in the Williamsburg/Brooklyn area.

    The surgeon general will look away for an hour or two while you indulge.

    Copycats are appearing all over the world – its pure unadulterated BBQ bliss.

    PS – I am on another long haul motorbike trip across Nullarbor and know what you mean about the travelling blues – theres grey nomads everywhere out here who are quick with a cuppa and an anzac – not sure they do sugar free version but they are living the dream.

    Bondi Ben


  • carolene

    HU kitchen in Greenwich village. You won’t regret it! ;)


  • Tali

    Hi Sarah, good luck with targeting the American people with IQS…I hope it reaches the people that need it the most….not the already super conscious healthy & raw food eating peeps (well, maybe some of them too), but those who are really struggling with sugar addiction, and perhaps do not have the self knowledge (yet) to help themselves. Even if someone does not “quit sugar” 100%, increasing your level of awareness and substantially reducing is going to have major benefits, and I believe this also supports the economy and creates positive change ie less health problems in the world etc. Has a ripple effect you know? This is my first time commenting and I really, really do love your blog and the way you are so open and you share…I’m certainly benefitting from subscribing and have made some changes to my life since reading…I also catch you on TDL.

    In terms of great food places in NYC….I just finished reading GP’s Goop mag on NYC restaurants… I’ve picked out a few places to try myself, next time I am outbound and heading to NYC. I don’t think GP is gona get it wrong….complete trust there…



  • Michael

    I am an American who loves your program and has found great success with it. I fully agree with your agent, Americans will LOVE you and your books. Plus we desperately need you here haha!

    I live in NYC. It is an amazing city, and there are many great places for food here. Check out the Chelsea Market, the Farmers Market in Union Square, etc. There are many places here in the city that are now providing organic and farm-to-table options. It is very easy to eat healthy and sugar-free here. All you have to do is walk down the street to explore. I really love all areas below 23rd street. There are many more small, independent restaurants downtown. Be sure to check out the Hi-Line on the west side.

    Have a fantastic visit! No need to worry. We Americans have a bad rap, but I assure you we are nice. America will like you. :-)


  • Sarah L

    Hi Sarah: I’m also in NYC and so happy you are coming here. We could definitely do with your fresh perspective in this crazy town. Agree with the recommendations for Hu Kitchen. Are you doing any appearances here? Also agree with the comment above about hoping your message gets out at a national level. Americans are funny – they did not take well to Jamie Oliver’s message in some areas so perhaps you can get them to listen.


  • Gretchen Saule

    Your agent is absolutely right! We want your books in the US. I live in North Carolina and I’m already spreading the word.


  • allie

    Ditto this! I live in Arizona, am a big supporter of this movement, and certainly see your books & i quit sugar methodolgy being accepted in the US. :)
    Good luck!


  • Jess

    Wonderful post, Sarah.

    Travelling has a way of opening us up. Having just come back from a defining trip myself, I believe the cliche is true – sometimes we have to go far away to come back to ourselves.

    Best of luck and thank you for sharing! x


  • Becki

    Go to the Natural Gourmet Institute Friday night dinner. I think it’s $45 for 3 courses, fresh, seasonal, health focussed


  • Krissy

    Hi Sarah,
    Beautiful post about how travel makes you feel, it resonated deeply.
    Treat yourself and head to New Amsterdam Market on Sunday, its just fantastic.
    Have a great trip to a great city,
    xx Krissy


  • Lopsy

    First Class! Wow……Cant even imagine that…